Life-Study of Numbers

Life-Study of Numbersby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0040-6
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 33 of 53 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF NUMBERS

MESSAGE THIRTY-THREE

FIGHTING

(2)

Scripture Reading: Num. 22:1-40; 2 Pet. 2:15-16; Jude 11

IV. THE HARASSMENT BY BALAK AND BALAAM

Chapters twenty-two through twenty-five of Numbers deal with the harassment by Balak and Balaam. In this message we will consider the matter of Balak's evil intention (22:1-40).

A. Balak's Evil Intention

In Numbers 22 the enemy changed not only his way of fighting but also his mode of fighting. At first, in Exodus, Satan used the Egyptian army to frustrate the children of Israel. When they were about to cross the Red Sea, the Egyptians were right behind them. Later, in the wilderness, God's people had to fight against Amalek (Exo. 17:8-16). As we saw in the last message, the Israelites also fought and defeated the kings of Arad, the Amorites, and Bashan, destroying their cities and taking possession of their land (Num. 21:1-3, 21-35). After defeating these three kings, the children of Israel were ready to cross the Jordan and enter into the good land. The enemy, therefore, changed his mode of fighting against Israel.

1. Balak, the King of Moab,
Joining with Midian, and They Sending
Their Elders to Induce Balaam to Come and Curse Israel for Them

"Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was very afraid of the people, because they were many; and Moab was distressed because of the sons of Israel" (vv. 2-3). Balak, the king of Moab, was terrified by the children of Israel and their victories. He was afraid that they would defeat him and take over his territory. "Moab said to the elders of Midian, This congregation will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field" (v. 4a). Balak seemed to be saying, "This mighty people will devour me and my land. What can I do to fight against them?" Realizing that he could not defeat Israel militarily or politically, Balak decided to take the religious way.

As Numbers 22 indicates, the religious way is linked to both Moab and Midian. Moab was a son born of Lot and one of his daughters through incest (Gen. 19:30-38). Hence, Moab represents the fruit of fleshly lust. Midian was very close to the children of Ishmael, who represents the flesh, in contrast to Isaac, who represents that which is born of the Spirit. Midian, no doubt, also signifies the flesh. Balaam had much to do with Moab and Midian, for Balak used them to induce Balaam to come and curse Israel. These four—Balak, Moab, Midian, and Balaam—became one.

When the elders of Moab and Midian came to Balaam, he said to them, "Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as Jehovah speaks to me" (Num. 22:8a). Balaam was saying that he would speak to God and see what God would say. Balaam seemed to be quite spiritual. At the least, he was quite religious. Balaam, however, was definitely wrong. He knew that Balak wanted him to curse God's people, the children of Israel (v. 6). If Balaam had been faithful to God, he would have said, "Balak, as long as you are planning to destroy Israel, I can have nothing to do with you. I love God, and the children of Israel are God's people." But even though Balaam knew that Balak's evil intention was to damage God's people, Balaam nevertheless told the messengers that he would ask God whether he should go with them or not. How ridiculous!

We today may do something that is just as ridiculous as what Balaam did. For example, suppose someone suggests that you participate in a certain kind of worldly entertainment, and you tell that person that you would like to consider the matter before the Lord and see whether or not the Lord would agree with such participation. In principle, this kind of considering before the Lord would be the same as Balaam's in Numbers 22.

Let us take as another illustration the way we style our hair. Is the Lord happy with your hair style? Suppose a sister wants to style her hair in a very worldly way. She knows that the Lord does not agree with this style, but she tries to pray about it anyway. Her consideration is the same in nature as Balaam's.

There may be many occasions when we know that doing a particular thing is not of the Lord, yet we still try to seek the Lord's leading in the matter. Although we know that the thing is wrong, we may ask the Lord whether we should do it or not. This can lead to self-deception. In Numbers 22 Balaam was actually engaging in self-deception.


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